MOSCOW (AA) — Azerbaijan issued a response on Thursday to remarks by a senior Iranian commander on the 2020 war in Karabakh, a Southern Caucasus region that Baku liberated from nearly three decades of Armenian occupation.
The comments by Iranian ground forces commander Kiomers Heydari amount to "dirty and slanderous opinions" about Baku, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said in a statement, rejecting Heydari's claims that "Zionist" forces were present in the country, along with ISIS/Daesh terrorists.
"First of all, we state that the accusation of the Iranian side about the presence of any foreign forces in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan is groundless and completely unacceptable. In general, there are no foreign elements in the territory of the Republic of Azerbaijan," the ministry said.
On further remarks by Heydari that Iran would not allow border changes the with Armenia, the ministry said Yerevan occupied Azerbaijani territory for nearly 30 years, including a section of the border with Iran stretching 132 kilometers (82 miles).
"However, the Iranian side has never once made an incriminating statement regarding Armenia. On the contrary, the Iranian-Armenian brotherhood became stronger during this period," it said, naming Tehran one of Yerevan's main allies, together with France.
The statement also underlined that Baku supported the territorial integrity of all countries and did not interfere in their internal affairs.
"In response to the accusation that Azerbaijan allegedly used ISIS terrorists in the 44-day Patriotic War, we inform you that the glorious Azerbaijan Army single-handedly freed our lands from occupation and wrote a record of victory.
"This claim is nothing more than an absurd accusation and slander. It is ironic and ridiculous that this accusation was made by a high-ranking military officer of a state that supports terrorism and whose name is known for committing terrorist acts in various countries around the world," the ministry stressed.
Relations between the two former Soviet republics of Armenia and Azerbaijan have been tense since 1991, when the Armenian military occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, a territory internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, and seven adjacent regions.
In the fall of 2020, in 44 days of clashes, Azerbaijan liberated several cities, villages and settlements from Armenian occupation. The Russian-brokered peace agreement is celebrated as a triumph in Azerbaijan.